Feb. 7, 2014— -- As Jay Leno departed late-night television Thursday, his previous “Tonight Show” replacement wasn’t ready to let the occasion pass without a jab.
Conan O’Brien took over the show in 2009, but NBC switched back to Leno a year later.
O’Brien later landed his own show, “Conan,” on TBS. The scorned host has moved on, but he hasn’t forgotten the slight. During his monologue Thursday, O’Brien took a shot at his former network, saying, “NBC has the Olympics. It’s a big deal. NBC will finally get to show somebody who’s okay with passing the torch.”
The audience erupted and clapped, and O’Brien gave a “thumbs up” to the camera, laughing along.
“I allowed myself one, but it was a good one,” he said.
Fellow late-night host Jimmy Kimmel – who has shared his own rivalry with Leno – was more civil, writing on Twitter, “Issues aside, 20 years at #1 is a remarkable achievement. Congratulations and best wishes to @jayleno on an incredible run.”
David Letterman, Leno’s contemporary for decades, wished Leno luck on “Late Show.”
“If I was Jay Leno and I was retiring, you know what I would do? I’d go out and I would buy myself a car,” Letterman said.